Big Interview: Canva Co-Founder On The Changing Face Of Communications

Big Interview: Canva Co-Founder On The Changing Face Of Communications

Every year is a big year at Canva. The Australian design startup has grown from an idea into a $US3.2bn company in a little over seven years. Speaking with B&T, Canva’s co-founder and chief product officer Cameron Adams explains how the company’s growth has been facilitated by some wider marketing and technology trends.

“When we started, visual communication was just getting started on the internet,” Adams tells B&T. “Over the years we’ve seen a big shift.”

‘Canva’ wasn’t the business’s original name. It was actually ‘Canvas Chef”. And while the culinary-themed pitch for Canvas Chef now seems rather dowdy, the original concepts of ‘Design’, ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Share’ are still extremely relevant.

Canva’s success has been built on making design simple and accessible for everyday users through free, pro and enterprise offerings.

While it has coincided with the rise of social media marketing and Software-as-a-Service, the business has always remained focused on the wider communications space.

That’s why in 2020 Canva is launching Canva Video.

“Video has grown from in 2007 taking up around 15 per cent of internet traffic to now being projected to reach 80 per cent by 2022,” Adams says.

“Video is increasingly becoming the medium through which people communicate and it’s important that they have the right tools to do it. At the moment, most of the video tools are extremely complicated.

“To get decent results out of them you have to deeply know what you’re doing, you have to pull all the ingredients together. It takes a really long time.

“We applied the simplicity that Canva had for graphic design and brought that to video design. We think putting that tool in the hands of everyday people is really going to open up the opportunity for people to engage with video.”

It’s also a way to change the conversation around Canva.

“We’ve been a static design platform for a while – most people think of Canva for their social posts or résumé – but bringing motion and dynamic content into Canva is a massive step for us,” Adams explains.

The announcement of Canva Video makes Canva’s move to acquire stock library sites Pexels and Pixabay earlier this year even more valuable.

“Anyone can access our massive libaray of stock videos that you can include, we also have a big library of music you can use and you can layer animations on top of that and publish it in whichever format you need,” he continues.

“Pexels and Pixabay have been fantastic for giving this the ingredients that we need for people to do design, they have really strong video libraries that we’ve included in our product.”

Branding for everyone

Another wider trend Adams and the Canva team have capitalised on has been around branding. While there is nothing new about branding in itself, a product like Canva has helped to bring it front of mind.

“A lot of people have become more aware of branding, particularly at the smaller end of the market,” says Adams.

“We launched our enterprise product about a month ago, which has a strong focus on brand, which big companies generally know about. They really want to push their brand and make sure all their materials are consistent.

“At the smaller end of the market, people have over the years understood the need for personal branding, as well as the importance of branding for whatever they’re doing, whether it’s their small business or their charity, or whatever organisation they’re trying to get started.

“With Canva, we do educate a lot of people about brand and how important it is and how they can apply it to everything they do, whether that be branding your social media posts, your menus or your résumé even. It’s really important and I think a lot of people discover it through Canva.”

Avoiding sameness

With simplicity and ease of use being such key pillars for Canva, there is always a risk designs will start to look the same.

But with the platform now host to 130 million different designs per month and 133 pieces of media being used per second, sameness is a trap Canva has clearly managed to avoid.

“For us, Canva has always been about multiple parts, not just the tool,” Adams says.

“You can give people the tool, but they also need the right content and ingredients to do that, so we’re constantly working on improving our library, bringing new content in and creating new templates and design resources for people to use so they can always stay on-trend, there’s always new stuff for them to explore and change. It allows that content to remain unique.”

The value of Collaboration

Just last month, Canva announced a new integration with social media marketing software company HubSpot.

It was a move that was one of many, with Canva having recently partnered with the likes of Facebook for similar integrations.

Adams suggests such partnerships are not just a way to get Canva in front of more users, but to improve the overall user experience.

“Partnerships and integrations are a really great way to grow,” he says.

“We can’t possibly do everything. There’s a lot of people doing stuff in places like CRMs and more complicated areas.

“Us figuring out ways to partner with them and bring their goodness into Canva and vice versa is incredibly important.”


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